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Look at McDonald’s. If ever there was a company that’s image has been portrayed as uncaring and rapacious in the past, this is it.
Yet even the so-called baddie of the corporate world has looked at the job-share option. Not only does it allow employees to share their jobs, it allows them to share them with their own family members – a case of a household waking up and deciding who fancies flipping burgers that day.
This hasn’t happened yet in the travel industry, but as a business with such a high percentage of female workers and one that is known for its willingness to adapt to new working conditions (the industry was way ahead of the game in developing homeworkers), it is surely only a matter of time until this type of employment becomes more commonplace.
John Tolmie, managing director at travel recruitment company AA Recruitment, agreed. “At the moment, the number of employers who come to us and mention job sharing is very limited but I do see that changing,” he said.
“In the last week, we have had 10 registrations, all of whom are returning-to-work mothers who want to work parttime. The part-time option is taken up by a lot of companies now and the logical next step is that they take on job sharers.”
What are the benefits?
So why would you want to take on a job share? And how is it different from a part-time job?
Consider a mother in her mid-30s returning to work after having her first child. If she has worked in the travel business since her early 20s, it is possible she has climbed the career ladder to a position of seniority. And even if she hasn’t, she is likely to be in a job she has worked hard towards getting and she enjoys.
What if the job can only be done properly if it is done five days a week. She can’t return part-time because the job needs more. This is where job sharing steps in.
The idea behind it is that job sharing increases the variety and seniority of work available to those who cannot commit to working five days a week.
However, although large travel companies are realising job sharing is a great way to hang on to staff, they have invested in over the years, it is unclear if the message is getting through about what type of employee should be allowed to do it and who shouldn’t
Thomson employs people on a job-sharing basis. A spokeswoman said: “Our job sharers are normally women coming back to work after maternity leave who need help with their child-care arrangements.
“However, it does tend to work only in less senior roles because the more senior a person is, the people that person deals with like to have just one point of contact.”
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said the operator encourages people to work flexible hours. “That includes job sharing as long as the hours meet business requirements,” she said.
Cosmos group HR manager Sandra Ferrari said job sharing can present difficulties as well as having real benefits. She said: “There is the problem of the continuity factor. If someone has a creative role, their work is difficult for someone else to take over.
“In that case, it would be easier to reorganise their job into a part-time position and reassign other aspects to someone else. However, when job sharing does work, there are huge benefits. If one of the job sharers is ill or on holiday, employers know at least part of that job is being done by the other job sharer.
“And at times when more staff are needed, there is the flexibility to have both working instead of employing temps who know little about the job.”
She added: “When someone resigns in the company and we look at filling that post, we always consider whether the job can be done by two people on a job-share basis. It makes sense to do so.”
Business will boom
AA Recruitment’s Tolmie said job sharing will take off more quickly within the business travel sector because there is less need for continuity within the working week.
He said: “There isn’t really a time in business travel when something will take a week to complete.
“Business is done fast and the next day you move on to something else. That kind of environment works well for a job-share situation.”
But there’s still some way to go before you can waltz up to your boss and suggest a job share because you fancy Fridays off.
As one business travel employer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We have tried job sharing, but it hasn’t really worked out for us.
“We find both women wanted to work three days and weren’t prepared to compromise. It’s something we will look at but we’ll make no promises.”
For jobs in the travel industry see our travel jobs section or visit our partner, totaljobs.com for travel and tourism industry vacancies with some of the UK’s largest companies
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